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The demons and devils that haunt scientists’ imaginations

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Rita Lucarelli. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. IntroductionOne of the most interesting religious documents produced at Thebes during the first part of the Libyan Period 21 st and beginning of 22 nd Dynasty 1 are the so-called Oracular Amuletic Decrees OAD.

In the fourth series of the Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum, Edwards collected 21 of them, 2 while a few others including oracle petitions and demotic self-dedications were published later in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. They would be better defined as sxr. Oracles played a central role in the religious life of the theocratic State of Amun at Thebes; 4 the OAD are a product of this religious environment as far as personal religion is concerned. They represent a different world of beliefs which is complementary to the official cult of Amun-Re, praised in the hymnical literature of the period as the benevolent god who takes care of the world and of the livings.

Although the OAD are often mentioned in current studies of ancient Egyptian religion and magic, there is no in-depth investigation, yet, on the demons listed in these texts, which in some cases corresponds to creatures mentioned in the mortuary papyri of the same period.

As opposed to the owners of the illustrated mortuary papyri however, the addressees of the OAD do not belong to the highest rank of the priestly circle of Amun but seem to be part of a lower class of the society. We are dealing here with the "defensive magic", which as opposed to the "productive magic" characterizing most of the funerary spells of the Book of the Dead, does not imply an initiation process.

This is clear in the stylistic form of the amuletic decrees, which are made basically as a catalogue of misfortunes and negative mundane experiences. Moreover, in the OAD, in a similar way to the threat formulas, evil persons together with abstract dangers are brought to a symbolic demonization as transgressors of the order in the created world; these type of references also evoke parallels with eschatological and funerary texts referring to the punishment in hell and to Apophis, whose production increases in late Pharaonic Egypt.

Types of Demons in the OADIn this paper I will discuss a lexicographical sample of the demonic names and epithets, which occur in the OAD and which sometimes also appear in other magical texts. I will focus on those general terms which constitute the core of the apotropaic lists of dangers to avoid in the OAD, and leave the specific occurrences of single beings which deserve a longer analysis in parallel to the other magical and ritual sources of the ancient Egyptian religion.

In the OAD instead, Ax. As a matter of fact, already in the Coffin Texts we have mentions of evil Ax. For instance, latently dangerous Ax. Two iA. As a matter of fact, the indications about the Ax. To this purpose the rituals of sHtp Ax. Evil spirits named Ax. I am the Horror bwt! In one spell against nightmares of the Ramesside period, the Ax. Another term much attested in the OAD and referring to demonic beings which play a similar role to the Ax.

The wrt are mentioned in various OAD and, like the derivative ixy from Ax, the variant wry survives with a negative connotation in the demotic self-dedicatory texts. Moreover, the term without article and with the female ending -t seems to apply both to the male and female manifestations of these spirits. This sort of evidence recalls what has been defined as the "topological classification of the demonic", namely the folkloric custom to feel the places of the local landscape as possessed by supernatural entities.

In one passage they are mentioned as a group as well, and the wrt of the sky is said to be the first of these. Therefore, the term seems to be a general epithet for evil spirits inhabiting different places on earth and in the sky but also possessing human beings or representing deceased relatives.

In this case the beliefs in the wrt-spirits recall the Western folklore of the ghost-stories, which describe disincarnated spirits appearing in different places and sometimes entering the body of human beings. It is also interesting to note that the determinatives of the word wrt in the OAD are the egg and the cobra hieroglyphs, the cobra sometimes being replaced by the divine determinative of the falcon on a standard. The same determinative applies to the term wrt, "uraeus" and it is used as epithet for many female goddesses like Hathor, Isis and Sekhmet, especially in the Late Period, besides being the name of the hippo-goddess Thoeris.

In this regard we should also mention a passage of the OAD mentioning the nTr. In one passage, for instance, it is referred to a series of actions concerning different sorts of evil to be avoided illness, disorder, evil words, evil eye, evil glance, evil colour , which are provoked by the bAw of local Theban gods Amun, Mut, Khonsu, Montu, Maat and the deified Amenemope.

In other passages protection is promised from "any god and any goddess who does wrong" 41 and "who create a poisonous substance". Moreover, we may think that these malevolent nTr. To name the demonic beings as nTrw may be a sort of perversion for not speaking out their real demonic name. This evidence could be compared to a passage of the Tales of Horus and Seth recorded in pChester Beatty I, where the term Hm, "majesty", seems to be a replacement for the negative term xft.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that most of the occurrences of the plural form nTr. Apart from the malevolent gods, there are other categories of demons in the OAD, which find parallels in other magical and medical texts, and occasionally in funerary texts as well. Their names seem to be interchangeable and the order in which three of them follow in the texts xAty.

First in the list are the xAty. Also in the OAD they fulfil this function and generally manifest themselves as a collective, 57 mainly in connection with Sekhmet in her aggressive and potentially destructive aspect. However, as happens often with the terrifying demons of the texts of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods, the slaughterers can also play the role of protectors of the temple against evil. In pBremmer-Rhind the slaughterers of Ra threaten Apophis and those of Sekhmet kill him, fill their mouth with his flesh and slurp his blood, 58 while in Edfu the same are explicitly mentioned as protectors of the temple and called xAty.

The reason of their presence in the OAD is the same as for the xAty. Among the bands of demons, a short mention must be made of the Hryty. To conclude, in the OAD "every messenger of every god and of every goddess" are mentioned, from which the owner of the papyrus must be protected. It seems therefore that the "messengers" as a collective are meant, although the name occurs in the singular.

At the beginning of the spell, the deceased says: "back, messenger of every god"! Thoth, god of wisdom and writer of the verdict of the Judgement, can also take the epithet of "messenger"; it is probably not a coincidence that the various pictorial representations of a single wpwty in the temples of Dendera and Edfu show a baboon, which is an animal manifestation of Thoth that appears very often in the weighing of the heart scene of Ch.

However it may be assumed that, as in the other cases of bands of demons mentioned in the decrees, their duties in the netherworld were not incompatible with the negative influence they had on earth; on the contrary, such an influence was considered to be even stronger because of their central role among the demonic inhabitants in the beyond. Considering the ancient Egyptian beliefs in the revenant dead, which are attested in the OAD mentioning the Ax. ConclusionThe catalogue of demons and demonized dangers contained in the OAD, part of which has been discussed above, was conceived within a programme by part of the temple authorities aimed at revaluating the earthly influence of minor gods and supernatural creatures.

The demons of the OAD were considered a cause of evil in daily life, which needed to be repulsed by divine intercession.

The priests and the temple authorities, by producing and distributing the amuletic papyri, were the intermediaries with the gods who pronounced the oracular decrees. When publishing the OAD, Edwards stated a very short span of time for their production and use, presuming that their popularity increased and decreased very suddenly.

However, the attempt of the Theban priests of the Libyan period to link the popular beliefs in demons to the local temples did not cease with the OAD but continued in the Ptolemaic period with the increasing use of protective amulets, which spread through the whole late antique Mediterranean world. Lists of demonic beings are not a peculiarity of the OAD and of other ancient Egyptian magical texts, but they can be found in other religious literature such as the Zoroastrian Vendidad and the Babylonian exorcistic rites.

In the funerary literature defensive magic exists as well although confined to a smaller group of spells aiming at preventing evil influences of impure animals and demonic beings, while in the magical texts of daily life defensive magic is more prominent.

The same formula is also in a Demotic selfdedication pBM published by Thompson, op. Demaree, The Ax iqr n Ra-Stelae.

On ancestor worship in ancient Egypt, Egyptologische Uitgaven 3, Leiden , ff. The nn. In one magico-medical papyrus the nn. Leitz, ed. Koenig, "Un revenant inconvenant? Quack, "Balsamierung und Totengericht in Papyrus Insinger", Enchoria 25 , , in particular p. Frankfurter, op. Idem, L2 Vs. Borghouts, Divine Intervention. Lesko ed. Parker presented on the occasion of his 78th birthday, dec. Borghouts, Divine Intervention, 51, fn. The decans can also have a protective function as amulets; in the necropolis of Tanis they were depicted on the wristbands in a tomb of the royal necropolis; cf.

Wilson, A Ptolemaic Lexicon. Only one document L 7 in Edward's edition, see footnote below mentions the pharaoh Osorkon of the 22 nd Dynasty; from the orthographic point of view, most of these papyri can be dated to the 21 st Dynasty.

Edwards, Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum. Fourth Series. As a matter of fact, oracle petitions and demotic self-dedications are similar to the OAD in their apotropaic aim of protecting the suppliant, through an address to the gods, from evil and adverse influences. Muhs in this volume on the Oracular Property Decrees. Related Papers. Demonology in the Greco-Roman Period? By Rita Lucarelli. Demons in the Book of the Dead. Demons Benevolent and Malevolent. Illness as Divine Punishment.

The nature and function of the disease-carrier demons in the ancient Egyptian magical texts. By Kasia Szpakowska. Download pdf.

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Demons and Population Control

Thank you for visiting nature. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript. Physicist James Clerk Maxwell envisaged a demon that could reverse entropy. Press The workings of powerful computers, the processes of evolution, the market forces that drive the global economy.

Even a bit of dirt across the white line could ruin the spell. Always treat the Demons with honesty and respect. All of these terms refer to basically the same thing: a familiar spirit. Put your left shoe on and head home, he should be in your living room upon your arrival. One of the most important steps in the summoning of a Demon you are not yet familiar with, is to go through Satan. Dinner unappealing?

A range of books about the Christian approach to spiritual warfare. Access Free Spiritual Warfare Derek Prince Spiritual Warfare Derek Prince dejavusansextralight font size 12 format If you ally habit such a referred spiritual warfare derek prince ebook that will come up with the money for you worth, acquire the unquestionably best seller from us currently from several preferred authors. One way to prepare for warfare is through fasting. Job says "Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways. One of the tragedies of our time is that so many Catholics have dropped those weapons.

Popular Beliefs in Demons in the Lybian Period: the Evidence of the Oracular Amuletic Decrees

Secular "gods" blame Hindu "demons". Hindu philosophy popularly explained. There are countless gods in the Hindu pantheon, all known for their unique traits and mystic abilities. An Article about Asura by ApamNapat.

The demons ' names given below are taken from the Ars Goetia , which differs in terms of number and ranking from the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum of Johann Weyer. As a result of multiple translations, there are multiple spellings for some of the names, explained in more detail in the articles concerning them. Eligos Abigor. Illustration from Collin de Plancy 's Dictionnaire Infernal.

One of the major problems in the study of dead civilizations is the lack of native informants. If we wish to understand the dead society and do not wish to resort to spiritualism we must rely on the written and physical remains. In the case of ancient Mesopotamia, we have a vast corpus of cuneiform documents which can be used to reconstruct ethnology and folklore. In addition, there are large quantities of material remains of all kinds. This paper is concerned with the beliefs and practices surrounding childbirth in the ancient Near East.

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The Demons of William James

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